What’s It Worth? Art Nouveau Elegance

Readers know of our fondness for Tiffany items. We like to brag about the $400,000 Tiffany watch we once sold … or the complete set of Japanese mixed metal flatware we bought from a Clearwater resident for $12,000 … or the $111,000 we paid for the modern Tiffany & Co. fancy yellow diamond we sold last week, etc. etc.

But we also buy expensive vintage of any maker. A couple of makers that stand out are Marcus & Starr and Dreicer & Co. Marcus and Starr were once partners. But they were independent for decades. Any gold
or silver item with either name on it — Starr or Marcus (or Black Starr & Frost set) — is likely collectible. All three firms made extraordinary items at the dawn of the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts eras.

oddly elegance

Beautiful, But Oddly Signed

Last week — after a few days of negotiation with a Dallas jeweler about the price and the authorship of his black opal brooch — we were at an impasse. While the piece had an odd signature, he was insistent it was made by Herman Marcus or Marcus & Co.

oddly opal

We came to a compromise, and decided to let the public have the final say at the International Auction of our sister company Hess Fine Art and to sell it as an “Attribution.” We vetted this with Katrina Hess, our licensed auctioneer.

In this case, the piece screams Marcus. The Marcus brothers used black opal routinely and their designs were VERY similar, using the same techniques with the same quality. On the left and right, you see well-known signed examples of Marcus’s work. In the center, our attribution. Further study determined it was by yet another celebrated company, Durand & Co. I had offered over $3,000 for this tiny brooch. It has already topped $1,500 in our auction with 3 weeks to go! We will report auction results in a future column.

We will beat all offers!
We are Tampa Bay’s luxury watch headquarters and we love vintage!
Go ahead, Google us. We don’t just buy museum pieces.
Always buying rare and valuable items.
Cash or auction. We make house calls statewide.

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